10 tips for filing a homeowner's insurance claim
To protect residents from “unscrupulous individuals who prey on disaster victims,” Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak, following the May tornadoes, announced that his office was conducting a coordinated effort to combat insurance fraud by deploying investigators to storm-stricken areas to verify licenses, permits and insurance of those soliciting business.
As residents begin to rebuild from the May storms and prepare for future ones, here are some tips from national experts to help guide you through the claims process:
1. Always report the loss to your insurance company as soon as possible. If you need help remembering the name of the insurer, call your mortgage company.
2. Once informed of your claim, the insurer will provide necessary claim forms, which should be filled out as soon as possible, whether on paper, online, or in person with your agent. Due to the massive number of claims, local insurance agents say they prioritize the hardest-hit homes first.
3. Keep receipts for all lodging and meals, such as expenses covered under the “additional living expenses"
portion of your policy.
4. Make a room-by-room list of all the home’s contents. If you can do this before a major storm hits, it’s best to include a description of each item, approximate age, replacement cost and serial numbers for major appliances or electronics.
5. Take reasonable steps to protect or repair what you can. Cover windows, damaged roofs and walls to prevent further destruction.
6. Save receipts for anything you buy for protection or repair. Your insurer should reimburse you for reasonable expenses related to repairs to a property damaged by a covered peril.
7. Meet with your adjuster as soon as possible. Provide a general description of damage and your policy number. Write down the adjuster’s name and phone number, and provide yours.
8. Prepare a list of damaged or lost items. Make two copies for yourself and the adjuster. Include dates of purchase or estimated age, cost at purchase and estimated replacement cost. If possible, collect canceled checks, invoices, receipts or other documents to help the adjuster determine the value of the destroyed property.
9. Get multiple estimates for permanent repairs from a few reliable, licensed and bonded contractors, and give to the adjuster. The estimates should contain proposed repairs, costs and replacement prices.
10. If you need guidance on who to contact for repairs, storm victims should call the Angie’s List Concierge Service at 877-648-2448 for
help with research or scheduling appointments.